Bookmarks, Customs, and Muffins … oh my!

We’ll start with the best first: Muffins!

I would like to share with you possibly my favourite joke of all time. I’m pretty sure everyone and their pet llama has heard this one, but whatever, I still think it’s hilarious:

Two muffins are sitting in a microwave. The microwave turns on.

The first muffin looks at the second muffin and says, “Is it just me, or is it getting hot in here?”

The second muffin looks at the first muffin and screams, “OH MY GOD! A TALKING MUFFIN!”

He he he …

Right. Moving on to: Bookmarks!

In my continuing attempts to spend all my time thinking up marketing strategies for Imminent Danger instead of, say, actually doing my job and getting paid, I hit upon the idea of printing out massive amounts of bookmarks and leaving them randomly around town.

I found a site called that claimed to be able to sell me 1000 bookmarks for a crazy-low sum like $60. I was sold. So I created a kick-bottom bookmark, which I shall now share with you in all it’s bookmarky glory:


Aren’t they gorgeous? Don’t they just make you want to run outside in the freezing cold in your bare feet and dance around in the snow exulting in the wonder of life?

Exactly. So I sent in the design files and paid the $60. I was a bit surprised that there was no charge for shipping, but I figured they were just doing one of those “Order over X amount of money and we’ll ship it for free!” promotions like other online companies do.

I was decidedly misinformed.

Three days later, I get a call from The nice man on the phone greets me, tells me my bookmarks are printed and ready to be shipped, and then says, “It will be $65 for customs and shipping, so I’ll just go ahead and charge that to your VISA, shall I?”

My response, obviously, was “Hell no.” It is absolutely ridiculous that an online company would not charge shipping up front … and even more ridiculous that they would actually print an order before securing the shipping fee from the client! That’s no way to run a business!

So I sadly had to cancel my order. I feel bad that they already printed it, but I’m not going to pay more for shipping than I did on the actual product. If I’d known that was the shipping charge, I would have never placed the order in the first place.

So the moral of the story is:

Check what the shipping charge is before you place your order!

And now I’m back to square one on the bookmark front. Le sigh. Anyone know of a good, cheap bookmark printer that I can order from in Canada without incurring crazy customs fees? Writer of the winning suggestion gets a free bookmark once I actually get my hands on them!!!

Unrelated images of the day:

I have no idea what this is, but it looks awesome!

And a cute/disturbing comic to brighten your Friday:

Categories: Random, Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

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56 thoughts on “Bookmarks, Customs, and Muffins … oh my!

  1. Papizilla

    Do you have an Office Supply store near you? Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, all do various printing jobs, from Business Cards, to Post Cards, etc. I have always used Office Depot myself. They work quite well, at least for me so far.

    • I did look into Staples, but their bookmarks are crazy expensive. One of my friends actually works at the Copy Centre at Staples, and I asked her if it would be feasible to print bookmarks on a full sheet of paper and then cut them myself, but the cost still comes out to be much more than I can afford to spend. Sigh.

      • Papizilla

        Is it cheaper than paying $65 for shipping and customs? Or do you have a Kinko’s near you? Or what is it called now, FedEx something? You go in and print it yourself, then cut them out. Kinko’s was always a cheap alternative to Office Depot.

        • I believe it’s about the same. Staples is crazy expensive for no apparent reason. FedEx? Hmm … will have to look into that, I didn’t even know they printed things …

  2. Matthew Cook

    Have you considered just printing the bookmarks yourself on cardstock paper? If you cut them carefully or used an exactoknife, I’m sure they’d look very professional.

    • I want them to be all glossy and pretty, though. So I’d probably have to buy a high quality printer or something to get that effect, which would definitely cost a heap. Good suggestion though!!!

  3. I’ve researched some of the same things. Sadly, I haven’t found much that is that cheap for the printing. As for customs – I live in the U.S. where most of the printers I’ve researched are, so I’ve never had to look into customs charges. Wish I could have been of any help.

  4. That’s a great looking bookmark, Michelle! It made me “run outside in the freezing cold in (my) bare feet and dance around in the snow exulting in the wonder of life.” But then a police car came around the corner, so I scurried back in. … I second the vote of printing and cutting yourself if your printer doesn’t go through ink like crazy.

    • Wait, were the police going to arrest you? You should have pleaded the fifth. Is that the one where you have the right to bear arms? Because you could totally have taken out the popo if you had grizzly bear arms. Wham! Baf! Etc.

  5. inkspeare

    Michelle, I am going to use Vistaprint and they offer all kind of products that you can tailor to your sales promotions and activities. They have something I like, besides the bookmarkers, called rack cards. Check it out, maybe there is more stuff you might want to do for your launch party (if you are doing one). Here’s the site –

    • Rack cards! I didn’t even think of that! I’ve gotten some really nice business cards and magnets from Vistaprint — they were actually the first site I went to when I was looking into bookmarks, but they don’t print bookmarks. But rack cards … very interesting. I was also thinking about using their giant sized postcards and printing a couple bookmarks per card, and slicing them myself. I wonder if rack cards would work better with the dimensions …

      • inkspeare

        I like the idea of rack cards. I don’t know if you checked out MOO, but I also like the idea of making Moo mini cards, which I can carry with me and give around anytime. They are tiny cards, really cute, smaller than a business cards. Moo has different sizes that you might want to explore, but I don’t think they have rack cards or bookmarks, but you can be creative on their site. They are a bit more expensive than vistaprint, but not by much. Here’s the link if you want to check it out –

  6. My ideas, unfortunately, are the same. With the cost of quality paper & ink cartridges, I don’t know if you’d be able be able to self-print for very low cost, either. :/ But I wish you very good luck & I hope you find something.

    • Thanks 🙂 I don’t think self-printing will be the way to go — did you know that, per ounce, ink is one of the most expensive liquids in the world? How crazy is that!

  7. kathils

    This is the place I’m getting some from it was recommended by another author. I haven’t received mine yet, but can let you know the quality when they arrive. I don’t know what shipping for you will be, but they do tell you up front. I usually use Vistaprint, but they don’t do bookmarks — the rack cards are a bit bigger.

    • Oooh, new printing site! Many thanks — I’ll check it out and report back 🙂

      • kathils

        Okay, received my order today and I’m 1/2 happy. I ordered 100, rounded corners, gloss finish. 58 of them are absolutely gorgeous! Nice printing quality, sturdy, very professional. 60 of them are trash. One square corner, one rounded, bottom hacked up. I contacted customer service, so we shall see how they make it right. 😦

        • Oh geez. That sucks! I’m sorry 😦 Definitely don’t let them off the hook until they fix it! Get your money back if you have to. I guess I can cross overnightprints off my list.

  8. kathils

    BTW, leaving them around town is an awesome idea!!

  9. Not sure whereabouts in Canada you are, but I’d recommend Vistaprint or Minuteman Press. My husband is a graphic designer and they’re the only two printers he’ll use, favouring MP slightly. They’re very affordable for things like business cards, so I would imagine bookmarks would be reasonable as well!

  10. Michelle, I have an idea for you. How would you feel about making a gif or jpg file for your bookmark and posting it on your blog & website? You can do a page of the front side of the bookmarks & a page of the back, preferably so that they will line up properly if printed on the front & back of one sheet of paper. I suggest this because I would be willing to take part & I’m willing to bet others of your followers & book reviewers would as well. We can download the file ourselves & even if we only printed a few black & white copies on regular computer paper, you would still be getting promoted all over the place- much wider distribution than you would be able to do on your own. We could hand them out to friends, co-workers, random strangers reading over our shoulders, whatever. Like business cards.
    This occurred to me because I am planning to buy your book to read on a ridiculously long bus ride I will be taking later this month. And you know how people are on buses- they’re bored. And people love to interrupt other people while they are reading. Chances are at least once on the 8 hour drive someone will ask me, “Hey, what are you reading?” How nice would it be if, when I tell them,”It’s a really awesome book, you should check it out!” I have something concrete to hand them with info on the book?
    Just a thought. 🙂

    • That’s a phenomenal idea! Of course, it would depend on people being willing to download/print the bookmarks, but hey, I’ve already got one person aboard. (That would be you!)

      Yay for buying my book! It should do a decent job of keeping you entertained 🙂 Where are you headed? 8 hour bus ride … eek. I think I did that trip back in Grade 8 — the Grade 8 graduating class always got to take a bus trip to Quebec City, which is about 8 hours away from Toronto. I don’t remember what I did on the trip, but I bet you it involved reading of some sort.

      • Yay for printable bookmarks! I’m driving up to San Fransisco with a friend of mine & I will be taking the bus back home. Not looking forward to that trip. But at least I’ll get in some good reading, and maybe Ill even meet some interesting people. Or at least observe some interesting people. 😉

  11. I looked into bookmarks and I was not happy with the prices I saw, either. I am going to need to come up with some giveaway before October, though, I’m going to be going to a local science fiction convention and I want some freebies to put next to the books I’m selling. I really like the magnet–where did you get those made?

    • Yeah, bookmarks are randomly over-priced for no apparent reason. As for the magnets, I got them from (they’re called “magnetic business cards”) I believe they were $4.99 for 25, which isn’t the greatest price in the world, but it’s not half bad for magnets. I don’t know if vistaprint has a .com site, otherwise you might get hit with customs, but check them out — they’ve done right by me so far!

  12. $65 for shipping and customs??? How big is the package of 1000 bookmarks? And there was no indication of the shipping fee on the website or in your order? That’s really dodgy.
    I thought I got ripped off recently with shipping fees for something I bought from an Australian website with presumably local delivery. Product was about $70 in a smallish package, shipping was $25 which I thought was a bit steep for domestic but I didn’t know it was being shipped from the USA. Probably a fair – sorry, standard – price in the end. Just wish they made that clearer.
    But, I think leaving the bookmarks lying around town is great idea but are you actually allowed to do that where you are? It’s not like you’re hiding your identity!

    • For the shipping thing — it turns out that $60 actually is a standard price for shipping bookmarks across the border. I checked with another US printer, and they quoted me the same price. So it wasn’t an evil scheme by But still, they really should have indicated that when I ordered the darn things! Customs hits you hard on the weirdest things.

      Yeah, I’m pretty psyched with the bookmark plan. I won’t just be leaving them randomly — I’m planning on asking assorted local stores, coffeeshops, etc., if they’d be willing to let me leave a small stack. The last thing I want is to be fined by the town for littering!

      • So it’s cheaper to send stuff across the pacific than over the USA-Canada border?

        I’ve seen it done here where people leave pamphlets and advertising material deliberately on each and every seat on a train carriage. Pretty sure that’s frowned upon, if not illegal. Yes, your plan is better! 🙂

  13. Michelle, I for one had never heard the muffin joke! 🙂
    I have been contemplating inexpensive marketing ideas and had thought of bookmarks, too. I haven’t looked into any pricing yet and am shocked that they are not cheap. Lots of great links and ideas in these comments, though. Hoping you find your answer.

    • Well, the bookmarks themselves are fairly cheap … it’s the shipping/customs that get’s you 😀 Unless you live in the States, in which case you’re golden! The cheapest bookmarks I’ve found thus far was about $98 for 5000 bookmarks — which is crazy cheap! But again, printed and shipped from the States. Curse you, Canadian customs!

  14. Gwen

    Oh, that sucks! Those bookmarks are beautiful! In any event, thanks for the helpful life lesson.

  15. That’s such a shame. They look good!

    The company shouldn’t last long if they act like. The price should be including everything.

    • I agree. Or even if they don’t tell you the price up front, it should at least show up at the checkout window. Calling you three days later to charge shipping is just weird.

      • And really bad business. I’m sure you’re not the only person to cancel an order after they’ve printed everything. Weird is the word 🙂

  16. Try tell them Tania sent you. They have a great price on bookmarks. I can’t find their price sheet just now, but it was reasonable, I believe. This is the link to stuff he has done

  17. Hey Michelle! I put the book review up today: Check it out when you get a chance, and again, congrats!

  18. So sorry your bookmarks fell through! You can never have too many bookmarks… unless someone’s going to charge $65 in shipping for them.
    That picture is a high-speed camera image of dye dropped into water. There’s a lot of similar neatness out there if you look. 🙂

  19. I love the muffin joke! I hadn’t heard it before. It reminds me of my favourite monkey joke:

    Two monkeys are sitting in a bathtub. One looks at his friend and says, “Hey, pass me the soap?”
    The other monkey looks at him and says, “What do I look like, a typewriter?”

    I know, it’s not funny. But if you laugh hysterically while you tell it, people will laugh at the punchline, and then get really confused about what they’re laughing at. Hilarity ensues.

    Just found your blog today, I’m off to have a look through the archives. 🙂


    • Lol, it’s true, isn’t it? Laugh enough and people will assume you’re laughing for a reason. And I love your joke. I don’t get it at all, but at the same time I totally do. Know what I mean?

      Enjoy the archiving 😀

  20. I used them for mine maybe not the cheapest out there though not overly expensive but the costs are all shown up front and they were quick and efficient and the product was great

    • Oooh they look great! I have a feeling that I would have a problem with customs stealing all my money, though, since they appear to be a UK company. Hmm …

      • the other option I considered was the postcards via zazzle though to be honest most things on their site work out quite pricey

  21. Loved the bookmarks. You shouldn’t have to check shipping prices. They should be evident. > As for the pic of the blue thingy, that is quite obviously a Martian mushroom, growing on, uh, Mars. They’ve very poisonous (which is all the nodular material at the bottom of the pic, feeding them their daily venom, unless of course, you bring them to earth, boil them in salt water and bake them at 350 degrees for one hour. I’m surprised you didn’t know that. 🙂 My last batch was very rubbery. Not at all worth the fuel to go collect them. > Thanks for visiting Writing Tips at Happy day! Deb

    • Hahaha awesome. See, I went wrong with the cooking time and temperature. My go-to cooking temperature is 400 degrees, and I keep burning the outside of the mushrooms. And as everyone knows, a burnt Martian mushroom is about as delicious as a handful of gravel, except with less flavour.

  22. Pingback: Bookmarks! Bookmarks! Bookmarks! | Michelle Proulx - The Blog

  23. Thanks for finally writing about >Bookmarks, Customs, annd Muffins oh my!
    | Michelle Proulx — The Websie <Loved it!

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